Two weeks after they first met during a concert in 2010, Andrea and Ford shared their first official date; but one week after that, she was off to finish her senior year at college. The couple knew there was something between them, though, so they vowed to make it work and spent their first three years together in a long-distance relationship. Four years after they met, the couple traveled to California to celebrate Ford's birthday. "We love to travel and have been on a lot of amazing trips while we've been together," Andrea says. "I had mentioned multiple times about wanting to take a scenic helicopter ride on one of our trips and after a drive down the coast, we pulled up at a private airport and I was ecstatic!" Things only got better from there: Once the couple landed in nearby Malibu, Andrea noticed a picnic table with framed photos, roses, and champagne. There, Ford got down on one knee and asked Andrea to be his wife.
The bride knew exactly where she wanted her April 25, 2015, wedding to take place and quickly booked two Nashville, Tennessee, venues for the couple's celebration. West End United Methodist Church, where the couple has attended services in the past, was their first choice for the ceremony, and no space other than Schermerhorn Symphony Center would have worked for the reception. "I was dead set on having the party there," says Andrea. "I called the day after we got engaged and they only had one date open in the spring, so we immediately booked it. It was my dream venue." With visions of a glamorous black-tie bash in mind, the couple worked with planner Jayne Bubis Events (who also planned Carrie Underwood's wedding!) to bring their elegant ideas to life. Read on to see how it all came together, as captured by the talented Kristyn Hogan.
"I always wanted a black-tie wedding and Schermerhorn Symphony Center was the perfect setting for that," says the bride. "It had the prettiest rooms to get ready in, to have the cocktail hour in, and the amazing symphony hall for the reception." With only one year to plan their wedding, Andrea and Ford got to work early, deciding they wanted the entire ceremony and reception to be done in shades of white, ivory, and blush with plenty of requisite glass and metallic accents to drive their glam aesthetic home.
The pair welcomed their friends and family to the celebration with a gift box filled with their favorite things (Ford's favorite chocolates and Andrea's favorite macaroons) as well as necessities like Advil, water, and champagne.
In order to find her dream wedding dress, the bride planned a weekend getaway to New York with her mom, grandmother, and three childhood friends. Her very first appointment was at none other than Vera Wang. "I had a picture of a dress that I had in mind but they didn't have that particular style in stock that day," Andrea says. Although she tried on other looks she loved, none hit the mark. She visited other boutiques and was preparing to see just one last store on her final day in town when her associate at Vera Wang called to say they had gotten the dress she was looking for. "We went immediately so that I could try it on and I fell in love with it."
The strapless lace and tulle ball gown hugged Andrea's body just as she envisioned and with the addition of a crystal belt and cathedral-length veil purchased from Vera Wang, the bride knew she had her big day look locked down.
As a special gift, Ford purchased an engraved bottle of perfume for Andrea to wear on the big day. "He selected the Peony and Blush Suede Jo Malone fragrance because he knew I was carrying a peony bouquet," the bride says. "When I wear the perfume it always reminds me of our wedding day."
Ford wore a Gucci tuxedo, which he paired with Louis Vuitton cufflinks that Andrea purchased as his wedding fit. "We went to Paris for our honeymoon so I got him the 'Champs Elysee' cufflinks so they would always remind him of our wedding day and honeymoon," she says. His classic stephanotis boutonniere coordinated with his bride's peony bouquet.
Since they had planned a black-tie wedding, Andrea asked her bridesmaids to all wear black gowns by Monique Lhuillier. Each woman carried a bouquet of white hydrangeas and roses. Ford's groomsmen all wore modern black tuxes.
With the exception of two large white floral arrangements at the altar, the bride and groom skipped ceremony decorations since the ornate church looked beautiful on its own. Andrea's father walked her down the aisle while a string quartet performed Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah."
"We wrote our own vows, which was very important to us," says the bride. "We wanted our ceremony to feel personal and it was special to have our guests hear the promises we had written for one another." The joyous newlyweds left the church as the quartet performed again, this time playing Beethoven's "Ode to Joy."
The party then moved to Schermerhorn Symphony Center, where cocktail hour was held in the main lobby. A saxophonist played while guests sipped cocktails, nibbled on appetizers, and found their escort cards arranged beneath a three-tiered floral centerpiece. A major hit with guests? Bite-size chicken tacos that were served alongside mini margaritas in Patron bottles!
A mix of long rectangular and round tables were set for the couple's seated dinner reception, all covered with blush and ivory linens with a gold overlay. Each place setting included a gold beaded charger and the couple's monogrammed wedding menu. Centerpieces included a mix of white flowers, like roses, hydrangeas, and tulips, arranged in tall and short vessels.
For dinner, everyone enjoyed a four-course meal paired with the couple's two signature drinks: Hers, champagne, St. Germain, and lavender, or his, an old fashioned with candied bacon.
The undisputed showstopper of the night was Andrea and Ford's epic 10-foot-tall wedding cake. "I had a specific vision for every detail of our wedding and didn't need much outside inspiration which didn't allow much rom for my mom to help," the bride says. "But she did request to be in charge of the cake! She still talks about how her contribution was the most talked about by all of our guests." It took two cars to get the towering confection to the reception, but the final look was certainly worth the logistical effort.
The 10-tier cake was decorated with cascading roses and gold leaves from Andrea's great grandparent's wedding cake. "They've been passed down through my family and we used them on top of the white roses, so that made it very special." Beneath a thick spread of buttercream, guests found alternating layers of sour cream pound and devil's food cake.
The couple shared their first dance to Lana Del Ray's "Young and Beautiful" before letting their band take over. "They played everything from mo town to current pop songs, and then we had a DJ that played more club-like music until 1 a.m.," Andrea says.
Guests flooded the dance floor until the very end of the evening, when a surprise confetti drop came during the last song of the night, signaling that everyone should head outside for a sparkler exit. "It was one of our favorite parts of the night," the bride says. "We really wanted to have a surprise for our guests and it made for beautiful photos."
Ceremony Venue: West End United Methodist Church || Reception Venue: Schermerhorn Symphony Center || Wedding Planner: Jayne Bubis Events || Bride's Wedding Dress & Veil: Vera Wang || Hair: Korie Bernard || Makeup: Dhante Alderson || Bridesmaids' Dresses: Monique Lhuillier || Groom's Attire: Gucci || Groomsmen's Attire: Street Tuxedo || Flowers: The Tulip Tree || Catering: Kristen Winston Catering || Cake: Dessert Designs || Rentals: Classic Party Rental; Visual Elements || Videographer: Zane Karl Studios || Photographer: Kristyn Hogan
Feeling inspired by this black-tie wedding? Then you should check out another couple's formal celebration in the video below.